Mayo home with its own pool, steam room and sauna on the market for €895k
Clever use of lighting, indoors and out, will leave house hunters dazzled by this fine home
Mayo people like to boast about Mayo, and Westport people like to boast about Westport.
One of only 15 heritage towns in Ireland, it's a lively, picturesque, cheerful sort of place, with natives, blow-ins and tourists alike rubbing shoulders amid landscapes of sea and mountain, streetscapes of hanging baskets and atmospheric pubs.
The inhabitants of Westport are also rather spoilt for public amenities. The refurbished Town Hall theatre reopened recently and is a great success, while the town has a swanky municipal swimming pool complete with sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and gym.
But if you want a whole leisure centre to yourself, you'll be looking north of Westport, to a recently-built detached house about three kilometres from the town, near Barley Hill.
The owners of this property revised plans for it in the mid-2000s and decided to add a single-storey extension with an indoor swimming pool, gym, sauna and steam room. If you love keeping fit, you'll want for nothing here.
And if you don't love keeping fit, you'll find plenty of sedentary amusement too, notwithstanding the effort involved in trying not to make eye contact with the treadmill.
At night, the whole place is a veritable light show with various coloured hues and spots criss-crossing the outside decks and turning a decorative trayed water fountain into something truly special. Inside too, in the hall, we find blue/purple beams playing on the stylish contemporary staircase.
This 3,500 sq ft house faces south and west, overlooking Clew Bay, Clare Island and Croagh Patrick, and the various living rooms have been arranged in such a way that you can sit around, watching the sun effect its dramatic changes on the landscape all day long if you want to.
The ground floor has a large entrance hall with curved walls and an open-tread staircase fashioned in stainless steel and walnut. This opens into a living room, measuring 25ft by 17ft, with glossy walnut floors and a solid-fuel stove suspended from the ceiling against one wall.
The stove is not the focal point of the room though - that would be the curved wall of windows and sliding doors which open onto the lower deck, with huge views of the west Mayo sky and seascape.
Also on the ground floor, though up a short flight of steps, is the kitchen and dining room, measuring about 22ft by 16ft, with a vaulted ceiling and exposed beams. The kitchen is in oak with granite countertops, and there's a dinky little breakfast bar just big enough for two people to take coffee together.
In the middle of the room is a solid-fuel stove suspended from the ceiling, and at one end - the dining end - is a glass wall with patio doors leading out to the upper deck. With these thrown open, it feels as if you've invited the mountains round for dinner.The ground floor also houses the swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gym and showers.
The pool measures 11 metres by six and is heated by a geothermal pump, separate from the geothermal pump heating the rest of the B2-rated house.
There's a large skylight over the water, and patio doors which you can open when the weather's fine enough to fancy swimming in the fresh air.
Also on this level is the master bedroom which has an oak floor, a walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom with a glass bath and sink. The other two bedrooms are on the first floor, with oak flooring and built-in wardrobes, and the bathroom on this level has exposed ceiling beams and a jacuzzi bath. The centrepiece of the first floor, though, is a sun lounge at the top of the stairs, with a vaulted, glazed ceiling offering a never-ending view, and steps out to a balcony to drink it all in.
The house sits on an acre of grounds with electric security gates leading to a long driveway lined with local stone walls and allowing for considerable seclusion. There's a wraparound, split-level deck and some formal landscaping, with a Zen-like waterfall and pool.
You can reach Westport easily enough on foot by the Great Western Greenway, which follows the old railway line from Westport to Achill.
Westport, Co Mayo
Asking price: €895,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Crowley in Westport, (098) 29009 and Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes in Dublin, (01) 237 6300