How the owner transformed this old farmhouse to into luxury itself
Dromreagh Durrus, West Cork: €980,000
In 2005, when Leonard Draper had the opportunity to buy an old farmhouse that had been in his mother's family for generations, he didn't hesitate. He had fond memories of visiting his grandmother there as a child and knew the area well. Dromreagh occupies an elevated site adjacent to Mount Corrin and has views over Dunmanus Bay, the Sheep's Head peninsula and the Mizen peninsula. The Sheep's Head walking routes attract tourists all year round.
But it turned out that the house, which occupies a three-acre site 15 minutes' walk from the little village of Durrus, had been built on rock, without foundations, and the job of renovation was more extensive than he had originally envisaged. Turning what was there into a comfortable modern home was too big a challenge.
Instead, he turned to local architect Eric Beamish of Carrigaline, who secured permission to demolish the existing house and rebuild from scratch using the footprint of the original. As Leonard planned to use the house as a summer holiday rental, he decided to put a 10m x 5m indoor swimming pool on what was the footprint of the original haybarn.
"This was always a project. I intended the house to be a business and as there are so many holiday rentals in the area, I wanted to do something that would distinguish our house from others. I'm conscious of the propensity for wet Irish summers, and the eternal question: 'What do you do when it's raining?' The obvious answer seemed to me to put in a swimming pool, and it has turned out to have been a good decision. We have rented it out successfully every summer since the house was completed in 2010, with a number of return visitors who take it for a few weeks at a time."
In peak season, Dromreagh rents for €1,800 a week, and in the winter months, Leonard - who lives 40 minutes' drive away - uses the house at weekends with his own family.
"It's our escape," he says. "We have found that the open-plan layout means that we spend more time together as a family, watching television or playing board games. In our own house, which has a more traditional layout, we tend to be in different rooms, so we find Dromreagh more sociable."
On the ground floor, as well as the kitchen/dining room, there's a living room with views out towards the sea and an en suite bedroom plus a separate guest lavatory. A corridor leads to the heated swimming pool area, where there is also a steam room and shower room.
Upstairs, the main bedroom has a south-west-facing balcony and en-suite bathroom, and there are three additional bedrooms and a family bathroom, as well as a laundry room and study/bedroom.
Thanks to its position, Dromreagh benefits from solar gain and has a B3 BER. Leonard says that making the house energy efficient and cosy was a priority
The house sits behind electric gates and the gardens feature a southwest-facing patio, flower beds, mature trees, lawn and paddock. The stream that Leonard remembers playing in as a child is now fenced off for safety reasons, although you can still hear it babbling away in the distance.
The village of Durrus - famous for the cheeses made by Jeffa Gill and her family - lies to the west, and has three pubs and a supermarket. The beach at Ballyrisode is 15 minutes' drive, with Barleycove a little further on. There is swimming at Ahakista, and kayaking and sailing opportunities are plentiful, with nearby Schull the focus of activity in the summer months, attracting sailing types from all over the country.
The area has an abundance of good places to eat, with Blair's Cove and The Fish Kitchen in Bantry being two of Leonard's favourites. Meanwhile Ballydehob, 10 minutes' away, has The Chestnut and Antonio's, and a busy music scene focussed on Levis', Rosie's and the Irish Whip. "Every band in the country wants to play there", says Leonard. "Our visitors love it."
Bitten by the bug, Leonard is on the hunt for another project in the area.
Agent: Martin Swanton (028) 37677
Viewing: By appointment