In the course of his work with Carlow-based Stone Systems, of which he is a director, Liam Hayes often visits Italy, where the company sources many of its raw materials.
"You see stone used in so many different ways there," he says, "it's inspiring. You find yourself taking photos, filing ideas away in the back of your head. When we were doing the work on the house, it was a chance to play with all the nice things that I had seen there."
Suaimhneas - the word translates as 'tranquillity' in Irish - dates from the early 19th Century, and Liam understands that the cottage was built at around the same time as the Presbyterian church 100m away, either as housing associated with the church itself or to accommodate local farmworkers.
Liam bought the house in 2004 from an English author who had lived there for a couple of years and had undertaken some refurbishment work but had not extended the footprint of the original cottage.
With years of experience working in construction and design, Liam was able to draw up the plans to extend the property himself.
He secured planning permission for a major extension which he executed in 2011. This included the addition of the porch to the front of the house, in keeping with the original style.
Essentially, the front section of the house is formed from the original two-storey cottage, and retains many original period features, while the back is the modern extension.
The house is now more than twice the size of the original.
In the older part of the house, either side of the front door on the ground floor, are a cosy reading room with a wood-burning stove, and a bedroom, with a utility room and downstairs loo adjacent. Upstairs, in this section, are two further simple bedrooms and a bathroom.
The new back section is a large open plan kitchen/ living/ dining space, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the courtyard to the rear.
"I designed this space with entertaining in mind," says Liam, "and there is a seamless flow from indoors to outdoors that works really well whenever we have people over.
" I like the way that the back of the house is properly modern, but sits well alongside the older part of the house."
Liam had new timber sash windows made locally, and installed white Irish oak floors in the older section of the house, with Italian white Carrara marble in the new section to the rear. The kitchen worktops and central island are finished in a dramatic dark polished granite called All Black Impala.
Another eye-catching feature is the bespoke staircase in steel and stone - also designed by Liam - that leads to the main bedroom suite upstairs. This, he says, was designed to be like a hotel suite - luxurious and comfortable, with separate areas for sleeping, eating and relaxing - and a place of retreat from whatever is going on in other parts of the house. There are fine views of Mount Leinster from the A-shaped window in the main bedroom, and the walls and floors of the en suite bathroom are clad in Emperador marble.
For a house that's more than 200 years old in parts, the BER of C1 is impressive. Liam achieved this by pumping the walls with aero bead insulation and insulating the roof. He also installed a new roof in Spanish slate and solid concrete floors to ensure that there is no transfer of noise from one part of the house to the other.
Suaimheas is right in the village of Bunclody, where there are shops, pubs and restaurants, and both primary and secondary schools, while the hidden gem that is Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club sits on 300 acres of parkland in what was once the Hall Dare estate.
Era: Circa 1818
Agent: Barty O'Connor (053) 9377147
Viewing: By appointment