Go with the flow in Clare refurb
With a new extension and internal layout, this former B&B is now a country haven within minutes of the city
The Gables, Blackwater, Clonlara, Co Clare
Asking price: €750,000 Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (061) 418 000
Nothing could have prepared Mary and Stephen Storey for how difficult it would be to run their nursing home in Co Clare during a pandemic. Up to that point, the couple believed they had dream jobs, but when Covid-19 turned the world upside-down in early 2020, care facilities were hit hard.
“We ran a nursing home for 32 years, and I loved every single second of it. Even in the beginning I thought 20 years would be the burnout point in this kind of business, but it came with the pandemic,” says Mary. “Having to meet people and say, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t come in and see your mum’, it was abnormal. Looking at loved ones through windows was awful and there was so much heartbreak.
“We were lucky not to get Covid in the nursing home till the third round, but it was still a very difficult time.”
The couple sold the business two years ago and are now in the process of looking for another enterprise to keep them busy. This was just a recent decision, however, as Mary and Stephen had just renovated their home in Co Clare, with no intention of moving any time soon.
“In my head, I was getting ready for the next stage of life,” says Mary, “but we now feel we’re too young to retire and are ready for the next adventure.”
They bought The Gables back in 2001. It was originally built as a bed and breakfast and was laid out like one when they took it on. “It sounds very glamorous to say we bought a B&B, but it was far from it,” Mary laughs. “There was a huge amount of renovation involved. It was a dormer bungalow and had a small sitting room and small kitchen with a little dining room off it. There was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t what people are looking for today.”
The house has been through a few more makeovers since those early days as it adapted to the different stages of life for the Storeys and their three children. The children have grown up and moved on, so the house is too big for two.
At 4,004sq ft, the house is standing to attention for new owners after its most recent renovation, which included a kitchen extension and a change to the internal layout.
“I wanted the house to flow, which it does now,” says Mary. “You come in the front door, and you can almost do a circle and arrive back at the door.”
Architect John McMahon was brought on board to help design the new extension and Dillon Brothers Construction made that vision a reality.
“The builders were great and tweaked things as we went along,” says Mary. “They came up with things we wouldn’t dream of, like squeezing in extra windows to bring in the light and other nice small touches that they knew would work from past projects they had worked on.”
Double doors lead you into the tiled entrance hall. To the left is the new and improved living space. It consists of a dining room, living room and kitchen, each still with a generous floor space but the difference now is that they run into each other. The living area has a floating unit that was made by Denis MacSweeny of Castle Oak Design. This has a feature fireplace at the base with electric flame-effect fire and a television above it with shelving on both sides.
The kitchen was also designed and made by MacSweeny and comes with a range of units, soft close drawers, granite worktops and splashback, and an induction hob with integrated ventilation. Two large sliding doors open out to a south-facing paved terrace.
The dining area has a porcelain-tiled floor and overlooks the front garden.
On the other side of the hallway is the more formal sitting room. This has a coved ceiling and centre rose, as well as a feature fireplace with open fire.
There is a study with wood flooring on this level, as well as two bedrooms with a Jack and Jill shower room.
For older children, or grandparents, looking for a bit of independence, a second hallway leads to an annex that has a living room with kitchenette and doors out to a separate patio. There is also a playroom and guest WC on this side of the house.
Upstairs, there is the master bedroom with en suite bathroom and sliding doors out to a balcony. There are three more bedrooms and a bathroom on this level.
Stephen, who is originally from London, has never looked back after a move from the busy city to the quiet countryside. Mary jokes that he “lost his English when he found Munster rugby”.
“My favourite part of the house is definitely the garden,” says Stephen, (it’s 0.7 of an acre) which has been a labour of love over the last 22 years. “Coming from London, I love the space and tranquillity of the countryside, while we’re just a five-minute drive to Limerick city.”
The garden is south-facing, laid-in lawn and bordered by hedges and trees. The house is surrounded by fields and farmland but is only 7km from Limerick city. It’s a three-minute drive into Clonlara village, where there is a national school, shops and pubs. The area is very popular with walkers with trails like the Lough Derg Way, East Clare Way and 12 O’Clock Hills all close by.
Even though Mary and Stephen have just finished their renovation work at The Gables, they are itching to get going on a new project.
“I love doing up houses and then when it’s finished, I kind of miss it,” admits Mary. “I always enjoy a bit of a challenge.”
Sherry FitzGerald seeks €750,000 for The Gables.