Inside this former Wicklow school on the market with impressive interior stonework and stained-glass windows
Period property was originally a centre of learning for children
To the untrained eye, the modest stone building at the entrance to the Anglican church in the Co. Wicklow village of Glenealy appears to be a church itself - it is chock-full of ecclesiastical features like stained-glass windows, a stone, pointed-arched doorway and pitched slate roofs.
But two engraved stone plaques in the property provide clues to its heritage. The first, above the gothic-style front door, informs the passer-by that the building was built in 1867 as a parochial school. In this instance, it was part of the educational wing of the local Church of Ireland.
The second plaque, above the hearth inside the property, provides more insight. It reads: "This school-house is erected, in loving memory, of the consistent life and peaceful death, of the late George Tombe by his widow, and in prayerful hope, that the young of this parish may be trained here, in the knowledge and love of Christ their saviour."
The handsome 19th-century building, since converted into a home, may once have been a schoolhouse rather than a church, but its future owner would need an appreciation for all things spiritual: some of its gravelled grounds, where schoolchildren once played, overlook the small church graveyard next door.
On the other side of the graveyard, behind the Anglican church, sits a former rector's house - The Old Rectory, as the property is now called, was owned until recently by Noel Pearson, the theatre and film producer whose credits include the Oscar-winning My Left Foot.
As Church of Ireland congregations dwindled in size, the schoolhouse eventually became surplus to requirements. But after being renovated and extended in the Noughties by its then owner, the Foxrock-based estate agent Daphne Kaye, The Old Schoolhouse, as it's now called, came to enjoy a new incarnation as a quirky home.
Kaye, who sold the property in early 2012 to the current owners, also added a mezzanine level inside and built an extension to the rear that's faithful to rest of the building.
The result of the work is a 1,259 sq ft, two-bed property that's a treasure trove of rare residential features.
The main entrance to the schoolhouse is a half-door that sits underneath the original bracketed porch hood. This door opens into what is now a living room lit by a large rose window from one gable end and leaded-stained glass windows throughout the rest of the full-height space. Underneath the windows, traditional wainscoting lines the living room walls, adding even more texture to the building's centrepiece. In the middle of the room, there is a multi-fuel stove that the current owner installed in the raised hearth to ensure a cosy welcome on a cold winter's night.
When the couple who now own The Old Schoolhouse purchased it, most of the renovation was finished. But because it had an F building energy rating, the pair sought to boost the BER to D1 by adding insulation to the gable end, radiators to the kitchen and master bedroom, a condensing boiler in the kitchen, and carpeting over the original wide-plank pine floor in the living room.
From the latter space, a white oak staircase leads up to the mezzanine area, where there is an en suite bedroom.
Its bathroom is tucked under the eaves, with skylights facing the bath, so the new owner could get in plenty of stargazing while enjoying a good soak.
Downstairs, the living room leads to another bathroom, with a free-standing clawfoot bath and separate shower, as well as to a dual-aspect kitchen with fitted Chalon units, a breakfast bar with a granite worktop, and a dining area.
The main bathroom is also accessible via double doors from the master bedroom, which, like the kitchen, has vaulted ceilings and Italian stone flooring.
The present owners, who are selling up in order to downsize, say: "Whether you wake up in the morning in the master bedroom or in the bedroom on the mezzanine level, you are surrounded by just so much character."
The south-facing sandstone terrace and private walled garden to the rear of the property can be accessed via sets of arched French doors from both the kitchen and the master bedroom.
This sun trap has an array of shrubs, flowers and trees planted around fine stonework to ensure there are colourful displays all year round.
For convenience, discreet electric gates have been added to the rear entrance of the property.
From the terrace, a set of steps lead up to the back of the site, where there are views of the bucolic Wicklow surroundings, a garden shed, and a stone outbuilding that once housed the former school's two toilets.
The Old Schoolhouse is also within walking distance of a shop, a pub, and a national school.
And should the new buyer wish to attend weekly services, the neighbouring church is just a one-minute walk away.
The sale of The Old Schoolhouse is being handled by Clarke Auctioneers, (0404) 40421, and the asking price is €450,000.
The Old Schoolhouse
Glenealy, Co. Wicklow
Asking price: €450k
Agent: Clarke Auctioneers, (0404) 40421