The "green wave" we've heard so much about since the local and European elections has long been a way of life for the residents of Cloughjordan ecovillage in Tipperary.
Established 10 years ago, the 67-acre sustainable community is now home to roughly 55 households.
Mary Clare Flynn has lived in the ecovillage on and off since 2014 and is eloquent about the joys of the place."We lived here for a year, moved back to Dublin for a year, and then we realised the quality of life we can have here in comparison with the high prices and the traffic in Dublin."
A mother of two, she lists off kid friendly activities that would be the envy of many a parent. "My son does so many after-school things like circus club, sailing in Dromineer, hurling and soccer, kick-boxing, meditation - all of them are a five-minute walk away in the main street." There are also two primary schools in the village. "I really fell in love with Cloughjordan - it's such a great community and place to raise kids."
In 2017, she spotted a 1950s house on Templemore Road, just on the outskirts of the village. "It was a really lovely, sweet house but it hadn't been updated in decades," says Mary Clare. It was on the market for €55,000.
She realised it would make an ideal house for her mum, who was keen to downsize, but that it would need some upgrading works to become a snug home.
She contacted Dave Flannery of SuperHomes Ireland, an SEAI-funded project that supports retrofitting existing houses to bring them up to a BER A energy rating. He assessed the property's suitability for a deep retrofit.
"I hadn't intended to do the full retrofit," Mary Clare says now laughing. The house had a BER rating of G, the lowest possible. "There was no heating in the old house," says Dave, "except for an old stove. The house was freezing. There was no ventilation at all.
"So we took a 'fabric first' approach which meant external wall insulation, triple-glazed windows and doors, a warm roof. A full new heating system was installed, powered by an air source heat pump."
Solar panels produce electricity, a ventilation system ensures clean and healthy air quality, and the house was made air tight.
The total cost was €65,000, which received a grant of 50pc of the costs, and the works took four to six weeks. The house now carries a BER of A3, and should reduce its energy costs - and carbon emissions - by 70pc.
"It was the first time since the house was built in the 1950s that piped heating was going into each room, the air tightness was improved to a standard that was better than new build," says Dave.
Since then, her mum's plans have changed, and the house has now come to market with an asking price of €129,000. It comprises a kitchen/dining room to the rear, a living room, as well as three bedrooms, two of which are doubles. There is a shower room and a further bedroom that could be used as a study on the ground floor.
The ecovillage provides a community supported agriculture scheme that provides organic fruit and veg to the residents, and also boasts an award-winning bakery. And there are many activities for the grown ups, says Mary Clare. "We have a bookshop cafe called Sheelagh na Gig. We have a monthly music night in Grace's Bar, there's a ukulele group, a choir, dancing, drama groups - really there is so much to do."
Cloughjordan is accessible by rail to Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Killarney. In fact, Mary Clare's partner commutes to Dublin to work, a journey of 151km by car, or an hour and 45 minutes by rail from the charming Victorian station.
3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Agent: DNG Michael Gilmartin (067) 31 569
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