Saturday 20 July 2019

Peek inside this dreamy Louth cottage restored by a couple in love

The cottage has been carefully restored to retain its traditional charm
Dorothy Rose Cottage has been thoughtfully renovated and restored
Dorothy Rose Cottage has been thoughtfully renovated and restored

Alison Gill

Dorothy Rose Cottage is a romantic old Irish property in every sense. It was bought by an Armagh man as a present for his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary. Their daughter Emma recalls one Sunday in 1989, while out for a family drive, they came upon a dilapidated building in the small village of Whitestown in Co Louth.

"My late father was an architect who was fond of traditional properties and restoration projects, and my late mother was originally from Bangor and she always wanted to be back by the sea. So this cottage had great appeal to them both," says Emma.

The open-plan kitchen/dining
The open-plan kitchen/dining

And so, after 25 years of marriage, this run-down but charming home became an anniversary present with a lot of work attached.

A new roof was put on, internal walls were knocked down to make room for a large living space, sash windows were installed and new timber floors were fitted. The outbuilding, known to the family as the 'pig shed', got a new roof and was turned into a studio.

The living area also has a wood-burning stove
The living area also has a wood-burning stove

Emma has many happy memories of the time spent in the cottage. "A favourite room of mine is the living room with the big fire where people came and sat and chatted, year after year," she says. "My mother was a great cook and would often make food for the family and other guests. This was followed by a walk to the sea shore, and a quick visit to Lily Finnegan's pub on the way back."

The House

A wood-burning stove in the living room of the studio
A wood-burning stove in the living room of the studio

The cottage has been very thoughtfully renovated and restored, creating a brighter and more spacious home, while keeping the charm of the original building, with exposed walls, sash windows and tiled kitchen floor.

The half-and-half front door opens into the open-plan living/kitchen/dining area. There is a wood-burning stove and built-in bookshelves in the living room. The kitchen has country-style units and an island with gas hob.

Aerial view of the cottage and converted 'pig shed'
Aerial view of the cottage and converted 'pig shed'

On the other side of the hall is the bedroom. This has a wooden floor and exposed brick walls. The bathroom has a tiled floor and shower.

Beside the cottage is the old 'pig shed' that has been converted into a one-bed studio. This would be great for guests or could even be an Airbnb option for extra income. The living room in the studio has a wood-burning stove and there is wooden flooring throughout. The combined floor area of both buildings is 1,112 sq ft. The cottage is heated by electric heaters and has a septic tank.

King John's Castle in Carlingford
King John's Castle in Carlingford

There is a gravel path around the property, providing plenty of space for parking. To the rear is a large garden, set in lawn with mature trees and shrubs providing privacy.

The Locale

One of the bedrooms
One of the bedrooms

Whitestown is a small townland on the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth with clusters of traditional cottages, some renovated, some not. It got a lot of attention in June last year when Joe Biden came to visit the home of his great-great grandfather, which is directly across the road from Dorothy Rose Cottage.

At the end of the road is the sea shore with a pebble beach that can be reached in five minutes. If you're willing to go a little further south, you'll hit the sandy, Blue Flag Templetown Beach. The village of Greenore is a short drive away, and Carlingford is just 5km north. A car journey to Dundalk takes just under half an hour, Dublin is an hour and 20 minutes away, and Belfast is just over an hour's drive.

Things To Do

For walkers of all levels, this is a great spot. There are 10 loop walks around the peninsula. The landscape is unspoilt with views to the sea to one side and mountains to the other. It was actually named as one of the top 10 most beautiful places in Ireland by the Huffington Post in 2014.

Just a few miles out on the Dundalk Road is Martin's bar, which is home to the Cooley Whiskey Visitors' Centre. Here you can take a tour to learn about the distillation process and the ancient art of barrel coopering, followed by a tasting session back in the bar.

For a more child-friendly activity, you could head to Carlingford and visit Kevin Woods, aka The Leprechaun Whisperer. In 1989, a leprechaun suit, bones and coins were found in the mountains in Carlingford. Woods organised a hunt to try to catch one of the little people, but wasn't successful. In 2002 he came across gold coins in a stone wall, and so began his communication with Carraig, the elder of the 236 surviving leprechauns. Kids will delight in Woods' story-telling, and can visit the tunnels and caverns created by the little people themselves.

Eating and Drinking

You'll never have to go far for a pint in Whitestown. Lily Finnegan's is just a couple of hundred metres from the cottage and is a real gem. The stone floor, wooden dresser, snug and open fire make it one of the most welcoming pubs you'll ever enter. It came under the spotlight last year when Joe Biden popped in for a drink when visiting his great-great grandfather's home.

Local rugby brothers Rob and Dave Kearney are regular patrons, and there also is a story that Bruce Springsteen dropped in to Lily's in 1985 and bought a round of drinks for the local farmers.

There are plenty of food options in Carlingford. Wildwood Café and Liberty Café are good for lunch. The Baytree Restaurant on Newry Street in the medieval town has received many awards and is very popular with locals.

For a special occasion, or just because you're worth it, the restaurant at Ghan House, also in Carlingford, is located in the drawing room of the family-run Georgian hotel. The six-course tasting menu only costs €38 per person midweek, and includes dishes like treacle-cured salmon and saffron ice cream with sheep's yoghurt and apple.

The Crowd

Apart from the former vice presidents, rock legends and local sport stars, Whitestown is a quiet and very picturesque village, made up mostly of local families. The selling agent has had interested buyers from Britain, Northern Ireland and South Africa in recent months, and believes that Brexit isn't affecting them negatively because Dundalk and the surrounding area is a good base for people wanting access to the EU and the UK.

What's Not To Like

Electric heaters aren't the most energy-efficient way to heat a house, so new owners would probably want to look into installing a new heating system.

Dorothy Rose Cottage

Whitestown, Greenore, Co Louth

Asking price: €110,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Carroll (042) 9332173

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