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Power house on the Barrow

The Wood Dunganstown, New Ross, Co Wexford

Asking price: €595,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Radford (051) 426161 and PN O'Gorman (051) 421226

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The kitchen of The Wood in New Ross, Co Wexford - all the furniture was handcrafted by the owner Bill Power

The kitchen of The Wood in New Ross, Co Wexford - all the furniture was handcrafted by the owner Bill Power

Bill modelled the home on an old barn he refurbished

Bill modelled the home on an old barn he refurbished

The view of the Barrow

The view of the Barrow

The landing

The landing

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

Living room with beamed ceiling

Living room with beamed ceiling

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The kitchen of The Wood in New Ross, Co Wexford - all the furniture was handcrafted by the owner Bill Power

Sometimes in life we forget to have adventures. Bill and Rosalene Power didn't forget. Almost 40 years ago, the Dublin couple got interested in the self-sufficiency movement. In particular, they were inspired by publications like the bestselling 1970s tome, The Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency, by the early environmental activist John Seymour.

This had instructive illustrations by Sally Seymour showing man and wife engaged in all manner of tasks, from ploughing a field to plucking a chicken, to making cheese. The Powers fancied a bit of that. Soon they nurtured a dream of leaving the city to find somewhere idyllic of their own to grow food and run a smallholding.

So they did.

The Powers bought a rundown bungalow at scenic Hook Head in Wexford with some ground attached and, along with their three children, jumped into a new life. Bill, who had run a sign-writing business, had previously attended a Bolton Street course in carpentry as a lad, but had no other experience. They got stuck into fixing up the house. "She did everything, mixed cement, the whole lot," says Bill about wife Rosalene.

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Bill modelled the home on an old barn he refurbished

Bill modelled the home on an old barn he refurbished

Bill modelled the home on an old barn he refurbished

"I was alright with the carpentry, but I needed to know about stone. So we would go off on our holidays to Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which is famous for having the most bookshops of any town. We'd come home on the ferry loaded up with specialist stonework books."

Three years later, with the bungalow extended and refurbished, they sold up for twice what they bought it for. Next they restored a 100-plus-year-old farm complex. "There were four outbuildings, including a barn and a rundown farm house. We had to start off living in the barn. We did the buildings up one at a time."

At this point, the Powers believed they were ready to go large. So they took on a massive Georgian mansion in ruins on six acres. This had three storeys over a basement. It took the family six years to get it pristine. And for a time, they lived in a fancy mansion.

Next they decided to go the full hog and build their own self-designed stone and wood home from scratch. They acquired some land at Dunganstown, overlooking the wide early estuary of the River Barrow.

"I reasoned that the old barn we had lived in, with its layout and thick stone walls, was the best in terms of comfort and heating, so I modelled it on that."

Here, they encountered and became friends with none other than John Seymour himself, who had set up a self-sufficiency educational centre and smallholding just down the river in Killowen.

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The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

"He signed our copy of The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency with: 'To the hardest workers I ever met.'"

With Bill's building and stonework prowess fine-tuned, the project went well. The family decided to go just one more time. So they sold it and set out to build their 'forever' home on a site close by, directly on the river.

"I asked Rosalene what she wanted and she asked for just two things - a central vacuum cleaning system and raised decks from which to sit out in summer and view the river."

Dedicated environmentalists, the Powers recycled and reused. The stone was got for almost free after a cliff face clearance to allow a car park extension. The oak windows were salvaged free from a convent in New Ross, the vintage delicate leaded windows bought from a junk shop.

Bill made the furniture and handcrafted the French kitchen himself. Rosalene painted and mucked in with him. It took three years.

A fan of trees, Rosalene got planting on their 12 acre site, 12,000 of them. Native oak, pine and beech. Not surprisingly, they called their new house 'The Wood'.

"Our two boys and our daughter got stuck into this house too. They learned how to do things and how to work things out. I'm proud to say that every one of them is their own boss," says Bill.

"I'd be stood up a ladder trying to find the right stone to fit into the masonry and Rosalene would be picking them out and handing them up to me. For hours. That's what sticks in my mind."

But Rosalene was diagnosed with cancer and passed away just as the house was completed. That was 16 years ago. Now Bill is in his 80s and he, too, has fought his own battle with cancer.

He recently moved back to Dublin and has placed the house is for sale, seeking €595,000.

With everything hand built in stone and wood over three years, this house is a unique modern-day manifestation of the sort of craftsmanship not seen for 100 years. Somewhat Edwardian in its style, the house has three floors, which include a basement with wine cellar and a gym.

It has a hall with a wrought-iron staircase, a living room with beamed ceiling and wood stove, a big kitchen and dining room and four bedrooms. There's a workshop, garage, a boat house and a vegetable garden.

And, of course, it has raised decks overlooking the river and a fully integrated central vacuum system.

Now it's all set for someone else's big adventure.

Indo Property