Old cottage and sheds transformed into super modern Mayo home
An architect-designed family home blends the modern with the traditional
The owner of this conversion in Callow, Co Mayo, loved his workshop in an old barn beside his house so much that he wanted to copy the style for his own home. So, in stepped local architect Mark Stephens, who managed to transform a traditional Irish cottage and some old sheds into a five-bed family home.
"I did my own house about three miles away and there was a piece about it in The Western People," said the architect. "The clients read it and decided they wanted me involved. The remit was for the new building to blend in with the others on the land. We managed this with the use of terracotta and grey-coated steel roofs, which were designed to look like old galvanised steel."
The existing cottage was 871 sq ft before the extension began, with the completed residence now measuring 2,475 sq ft. It was designed around a large family with plenty of space for teenagers and their friends. "It's such a good party venue," says Stephens. "For all ages."
The property is hidden from the road and is extremely private. The exterior of the extension has a white-painted render to the ground floor and western red cedar to the first floor. There is a stainless steel balcony on the first floor, making the most of the views of the surrounding countryside.
You enter the house through the new part of the property into a large entrance hall with vaulted ceilings and a solid timber staircase.
Up on the first floor the open landing is designed to flood the house with light. There are two bedrooms on this floor. Both rooms have doors out onto the balcony and timber veranda. There is also a large bathroom on this level.
The main living area is on the ground floor, and has a solid timber floor and three French doors leading out to the garden. Double doors lead you from the living area into the dining room and kitchen. The dining area has another set of double doors that open out onto a stream in the garden. There is a large skylight in this room, a timber ceiling and a painted wooden floor. A few steps bring you down into the kitchen. This is a bright room with blue painted units, solid timber worktops and a tiled splashback. The floor is also painted white, there is a Belfast sink and the appliances are integrated.
Steps from the kitchen bring you into the cottage section of the property. This is where old meets new. The living room has a natural stone wall and a stove. There are timber floors and the original cottage door is still in use. There is also a loft area in this room. There are two further rooms in the cottage end of the house, and upstairs is a large bedroom.
The house is on the market with a guide of €220,000, but the owners are open to offers.
The house is in Callow in east Mayo, and is about 5km from Foxford and 6km from Swinford on the N26. The Callow lakes are right beside the property and are well known for their good stock of trout and salmon.
Foxford itself is a quaint village with a few shops and pubs. Swinford is a bit livelier and has a better selection of stores, with a Tesco for bulk shopping.
Ballina is a 15-minute drive from Foxford and is Mayo's largest town, so everything you need is only a short drive away.
Knock airport is half an hour from the property where flight destinations include Dublin, London, Edinburgh and Milan.
WHAT TO DO
It's all about fishing in this part of Mayo. The River Moy flows through Foxford and Swinford, and onto Ballina, and is known as one of the most prolific salmon rivers in Europe. Anglers come from all over the world to fish on the Moy. The salmon season opens on the first day of February and continues until the last day of September. Bridges just outside Swinford - Cloonacannana, Cloongullane and Ballylahan - provide vantage points for anglers on the river.
Callow lakes come full of trout, but also with plenty of scenery, so you can comfortably fish surrounded by the purple heather hills.
If fishing isn't for you, the Foxford Way Loop is a 33km walking trail with the Ox mountains on one side and the Nephin mountain on the other. You pass through boreens, boglands, archaeological sites, lakeshores and river banks. There are plenty of other walks around Foxford that won't take the whole day to complete.
The Brabazon Woods, just outside Swinford, are a popular destination with families, with plenty of picnic benches in a beautiful setting and a playground to keep the kids entertained.
The Síamsa Sráide Festival takes place in Swinford every August and is a week of free musical, artistic, cultural, sporting, historical, family-friendly entertainment. It's very popular with tourists and locals alike.
Foxford Woollen Mills, which was founded in 1892, is still thriving today and is open to the public from April to November. You can take part in a tour, browse the shop or enjoy lunch in the cafe.
The nearest beach is about half an hour away at Enniscrone, and half an hour in the other direction will bring you to the bustling town of Westport.
EATING AND DRINKING
The ever-popular pub and restaurant, Healy's, in Foxford is currently up for sale so your food choices are limited.
Poachers Restaurant in the Mayfly Hotel serves food all day and has a lively bar. The restaurant at the aforementioned Foxford Woollen Mills always receives great reviews and is known for its 'simple and seasonal' menu.
Guiry's Bar in Foxford is an old anglers' pub and the perfect place to trade fishing stories and keep up on local gossip.
In Swinford, the place to be is the Gateway Hotel. At weekends you can eat or drink while you enjoy the live entertainment provided by local musicians and bands. Further afield in Ballina, you can enjoy fine dining at the restaurants in Belleek Castle or the Ice House Hotel.
The world-class River Moy attracts high brow and genteel anglers from far and wide who want to experience one of the most popular salmon-fishing rivers in the world. It is a very cultural part of Mayo, with many artists, musicians and writers drawn to the area.
WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE
Apart from the anglers, it's mostly day trippers passing through on their way to the more popular tourist destinations in Co Mayo. This may suit you if you are after peace and relaxation, but if it's a bustling town with a choice of restaurants and pubs, you may be better off going further on to Westport or Castlebar.
Callow, Co Mayo
Asking price: €220,000
Agent: CK Properties & Auctioneers (096) 70878