Saturday 19 October 2019

This 'Fairy tale house', designed by the owner, up for sale for same price as city semi-d

Offaly homeowner transformed her fantasy home concept into a reality

The garden at the rear of the house with a pond and fountain. Photo: Paul Moore
The garden at the rear of the house with a pond and fountain. Photo: Paul Moore
Idle Corner was built in 1991. Photo: Paul Moore
Brenda Power
The semi-circular reception room with an open fireplace
The main bedroom with a spiral staircase leading to a walk-in wardrobe
One of the bedrooms
The balcony is off the upstairs landing
The kitchen
The conservatory
The dining room has an exposed brick wall

Alison Gill

'Don't let anyone tell you that you can't have that fairy tale house", says Offaly resident Brenda Power who proves that it's quite possible to own a magic home straight from the pages of a children's storybook just like her version, which comes complete with a thatched roof festooned with slouched thatch conicals, Gothic arches, beamed ceiling and medieval-style internal walls.

Idle Corner at Blueball near Tullamore truly is a fantasy cottage. It even comes complete with its own troupe of fairies.

The spectacular house, which was built to Brenda's instructions back in 1991, came about when she decided she didn't want a regular home but rather something different - romantic, wholly quirky and yet olde worldly. In Idle Corner, Brenda definitely succeeded in her goal - to build a real fairy tale house. What's more, the Power family did all the work themselves, except for the thatch roof that was crafted by a local expert. It wouldn't look out of place on a movie set, which is probably why they've had a few uninvited guests.

"Because it's so unusual, we get a lot of tourists showing up with the camera and taking photographs. One day, a busload of Americans pulled up outside, all ready to walk around. I think they thought we were part of Clonmacnoise," laughs Brenda.

The semi-circular reception room with an open fireplace
The semi-circular reception room with an open fireplace

They weren't the only ones who turned up with cameras. About 15 years ago, Marty Whelan and a crew from RTÉ did a piece on the house while filming around the Shannon. Brenda is delighted with the attention because she's proud that it's all her work that has made the house the attraction it is today.

"If I was to pick my favourite spot, I'd have to say the gardens," she says. "Inside, my favourite room would be the dining room with the long table that's been great for entertaining."

After years of hard graft, Brenda is happy to move on to another project, where she says she would love to get her hands dirty with a small cottage but stick to the olde worlde theme she's so fond of. The house feels a bit too big for her now that her son Dean is off on his travels. The athlete, who has represented Ireland, is taking some time out to travel around Asia, and Brenda wants to find somewhere that would better suit her when he's gone.

The house is built from natural cut stone brick on the external walls. There is a well-maintained thatch roof and a feature round tower. The gardens have a magical feel with a pond and fountain, separate seating areas dotted around, low hedges and stone work, a gravel driveway and lawn to the front.

Inside, it is done in a traditional Irish cottage-style. Walls are either exposed brick or limestone-effect with decorative plasterwork and timber beams, to make it feel and look like it's been there for longer than 20-odd years.

The hallway gives the first taste of what lies ahead. Brenda has created an internal fairy waterfall feature inside the front door. The walls are decorated with timber panels and the floor is solid oak. A reception area off the hall leads into the living room, which is semi-circular and has an open fireplace. This follows on to the dining room with its exposed brick wall, faux beams and timber mantelpiece.

The garden at the rear of the house with a pond and fountain. Photo: Paul Moore
The garden at the rear of the house with a pond and fountain. Photo: Paul Moore

The kitchen is fitted with white units that have figurine insets on the doors. The floor is tiled and there is an internal feature window. The utility room has more fitted units and leads into the conservatory. This has a feature ceiling with timber beams and doors out to the garden and deck. There is another, less formal dining area with a dresser and fireplace.

Upstairs, the circular landing has a wrought iron balustrade and looks down over the hallway. There are double doors up here out to a balcony that is big enough to fit a patio table with two chairs. There are great views of Slieve Bloom mountains from the balcony.

The main bedroom is semi-circular with decorative plaster and cut stone walls, and a spiral staircase leads up to a walk-in wardrobe in the top of the tower. The second bedroom has feature timber beams and a built-in desk. There is another bedroom and a bathroom with an electric shower.

The house also has the potential to bring in some extra income because there is a separate stone-built garage with a tiled roof that has a solid fuel stove, heating, electricity and plumbing, making it ideal for Airbnb or a holiday rental. Alternatively, it could be used as a workshop or art studio. There is another steel-frame garage on the site, with a corrugated roof and concrete floor.

With tourists stopping off to snap it, the Idle Corner has been competing with the area's other big draw - the Tullamore Dew Visitors' Centre, which in turn, has been doing for Offaly what the Guinness Storehouse does for Dublin.

It's only in recent years that the whiskey returned to its ancestral home with a new state-of-the-art distillery. It was created by Daniel E Williams (DEW) in 1829 and when his grandson Desmond inherited the business, he revolutionised the industry by producing Ireland's first blended whiskey. Sadly the distillery shut its doors in 1954, but the brand was sold to John Powers and Sons.

The main bedroom with a spiral staircase leading to a walk-in wardrobe
The main bedroom with a spiral staircase leading to a walk-in wardrobe

In 2010, William Grant and Sons took over the label and built a distillery in the whiskey's birth place on the outskirts of Tullamore.

The house at Idle Corner in Blueball, Tullamore is for sale through DNG Kelly Duncan with a guide price of €395,000.

Idle Corner

Blueball, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Asking price: €395,000

Agent: DNG Kelly Duncan, (057) 932 5050

The conservatory
The conservatory

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