The master bedroom in this €1m mansion makes up the entire first floor
Once an invaluable mine of folklore, Kilbrittain School has now become a luxury Eden that overlooks the Cork coast
In times past it was widely understood that you couldn't get married in Lent. So rather than face into yet another 40 days of celibacy, couples made a dash for the altar on Shrove Tuesday - the day before mass abstinence began.
Queues formed outside the church and the parish priest sometimes worked through the night getting everyone matched and dispatched.
The pupils of Burren National School in Kilbrittain, Co Cork, recounted the tradition for the well-known Schools' Collection for which they compiled local lore back in the 1930s: "The man took his bride-to-be to the church on the cúlóg or pillion seat behind him on his horse."
But it seems, as midnight approached, brides could be mixed up in the haste to get hitched by poor light. "It often happened that a man took a sweetheart off the cúlóg from behind another man at the church door, hurried her to the altar and was married to her by the parish priest before the bridegroom-to-be realised what was taking place." So the lore goes anyways.
Burren School is long gone, and even the school building that replaced it is now closed. But the Kilbrittain schoolhouse itself still exists after a fashion, having been utterly transformed into a house.
A Google Street View from 2009 shows a deserted old school building complete with scrawny water tower and unruly evergreens (albeit with a miraculous view out the back). What stands on the site today is Eden House - as different from that unloved picture, and as unexpected as a surprise bride.
The place was sold in 2012 (fetching €125,000 according to the Property Price Register) and its new life then began. It's now an unusual, architect-designed dwelling in which you can still discern the school building that was (minus the water tower). It stands on about an acre and faces north towards the road, giving it exceptional views to the south over Courtmacsherry Bay.
Owing to the conversion being based on the original structure, the house has a rather eccentric layout, with a long, glass-walled artery linking the two parts of the house. That rambling floor plan allows for 3,186 sq ft of space on two floors - all brightly lit with hardwood floors and a great deal of glazing.
Just one end is two-storey, and the first floor consists of nothing but the master bedroom suite. The bedroom is triple-aspect thanks to floor-to-ceiling corner windows against the southern wall taking in the whole view. The glazing includes sliding doors to a balcony where you can take in the view. In the large, L-shaped ensuite of the master bedroom is a sunken bath set against a corner window with views of the bay. There's a walk-in shower too.
There are three more bedrooms downstairs, all ensuite, but if you didn't need quite that much sleeping accommodation, one of the ground-floor bedrooms is crying out to be used as a reception room instead. At one end of it is a sunlit angular corner with French doors to the garden. There is an open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room with high ceilings and double-height windows overlooking the water.
The kitchen is fitted with hardwood cabinets and white granite countertops, has an island unit and a wooden breakfast bar. In the living area, there's a wall-inset fireplace and two doors give access from here to the patio outside.
The ground floor also has a utility room and an office, and there's a detached block-built shed on the grounds as well, for extra storage. There's geothermal heating and a B2 energy rating. Eden House is about four kilometres from Kilbrittain and three kilometres east of Timoleague. Cork Airport is about 45 minutes' drive away.
It's for sale through joint agents Engel & Voelkers in Cork (021) 477 3200 and Hodnett Forde in Clonakilty (023) 883 3367 and has an asking price of €995,000.
Burren, Kilbrittain, Co Cork
Asking price: €995,000
Joint Agents: Engle & Voelkers, (021) 4773200; Hodnett Forde, (023) 8833367