A contemporary architect designed house with Carlingford coastal views will always offer food for thought to city-fleeing buyers. But what about a 1,780 sq ft house also designed by two different architects, each working in a different decade and in two materials, one predominantly in stone, the other in wood?
In the mid 1990s, architect Frank McGahon was busy following in the footsteps of his father Jack to become a fourth generation McGahon architect.
The late Jack McGahon was well known and much respected for his work in the north east and had been restoring a period coach house to live in at Carlingford in Louth. Son Frank had become a reverse commuter, heading to work in Dublin each day and returning home to Louth in the evenings. Jack suggested he take on a site right across the road, which had an old shed on it. Frank wasn't so sure if permission was possible, but made enquiries. It was and he acquired the site.
The homes that architects design for themselves are always special because they deploy the best fit and finishes possible, given that they are the most obvious public showcase of their work.
"Funny enough, if it wasn't for Dad, I wouldn't have looked into it at all," says Frank, now himself head of McGahon Architects. "I designed it with the main living spaces upstairs along with a raised deck to make best use of the light and the views.
"I was lucky to have Frank Duffy as the builder and he brought a stone mason called Pat who I can only describe as an artist in stone. Pat managed to get hold of a pile of salvaged assorted rubble from an old building which had been demolished. Lots of people asked me what sort of stone is it? It is all sorts of random types. I always said to them, 'it's not the stone, but the mason that matters'. And that was so true with this house."
The mason's work involved placing stones to make the tightest spaces between them, to make a visually attractive arrangement whilst always ensuring that the flat face of each faces outwards and sits flush with the others. The result is a fine crafted geological patchwork quilt with a pedigree that is centuries older than the house.
Not surprisingly, the distinctive design generated attention and a number of new commissions for McGahon. He sold the house six years later and then, in 2002, the next owners wanted to extend. So they called on conservation architect, Carlingford-born Paraic McKevitt.
Frank adds: "The coincidence was that Paraic had lived right across the road from me and was often round at the house. So apart from myself, he was probably the architect most familiar with how the house worked. Few architects like to see their work tinkered with, but given the circumstances, I do think he did a pretty good job."
Paraic adds: "It was tough because I knew the house, I'd had many a good night there and I liked it a lot. Most of all, I didn't want to compromise it. So I clad the extension with timber instead of stone-cedar panelling. The result, I hope, leaves Frank's house intact, while at the same time adding to it. We've met lots of times since then and the funny thing is that we actually never ever discussed it!"
The Stone House has three double bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor. The floors are oak and the windows mahogany. Upstairs, the open-plan living room and kitchen with its burgundy Aga has a vaulted ceiling. The raised master bedroom suite comes with an ensuite and its own dressing room. A stone stairwell leads down to a sunken, secluded courtyard.
Up top, there's a scene-stealing sunroom glazed on three sides and French doors lead to a big sandstone viewing terrace with uninterrupted vistas across Carlingford Lough, the Cooley Mountains (scene of Ireland's Tain legends) and King John's Castle. The Stone House has returned to market and the asking price is €495,000 through DNG Duffy. You'll have to ask them whether that's also set in stone.