Life Home & Garden

Monday 9 December 2019

Surfers' heaven on Copper coast for €585,000

Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford €585,000

Kieran and Elaine Rice pictured at Bracken Hill, Tramore Co. Waterford. Picture Dylan Vaughan
Kieran and Elaine Rice pictured at Bracken Hill, Tramore Co. Waterford. Picture Dylan Vaughan

Fran Power

When Peter Hogan of Dublin's Fish Shop restaurant announced last month that he was moving with his wife Jumoke Akintola back to his hometown of Tramore to open The Beach House restaurant, he cited a better pace of life as one of the reasons.

The couple are not the first foodies to make the move from city to country. Earlier this year, Nicola Crowley of Mezze Middle Eastern foods relocated from Dublin with husband Dvir Nusery to open their deli on the town's Main Street.

Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford
Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford

Whether it's the pull of The Good Life or the push of Dublin house prices and long commute times or a bit of both, young buyers are increasingly looking at settling in small rural towns such as Skibbereen in West Cork; Ennistymon in Co Clare; or Tramore, just 20 minutes' drive from Waterford city.

In Tramore, the regeneration goes beyond the gastro economy. In 2015, for example, local man Cian O Maidin opted to locate his software solutions company NearForm in Tralee. The company attracts clients - and talent - from around the globe, including magazine publishing house Conde Nast, and online fashion portal net-a-porter.

"A lot of the younger generation that emigrated 10 years ago, after the recession, are coming back from Australia, the Middle East, London, Canada," says local estate agent Michael Griffin. "It's affordable - you can buy a starter home for €240,000. You can buy an A-rated detached property for €325,000-€345,000.

"We're rich in amenities, schools, sports clubs, the beach. It's a great, vibrant town. A lot of new businesses are starting up - there's lots going on here. It's great to see that enthusiasm coming back to Tramore."

Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford
Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford

Some of these prospective buyers might well be interested in a high design five-bedroom detached house set on Bracken Hill with a view of the surf.

The vendor of Alton House, Kieran Rice, is a returned emigrant himself. He grew up in the seaside town but studied in Scotland, worked in South Africa and eventually came back to his home town via Dublin (where he met his Tramore-born wife Elaine) and Cork. They now have four boys, the youngest of whom is five.

The couple bought Kieran's former family home in 2013. It had been designed in the 1980s for Kieran's parents by well-known architect Nicky Fewer of Fewer Harrington Architects.

"He took a lot of inspiration from American houses of the 1980s," says Kieran. "The house was very novel and there was a big buzz about it at the time. A lot of old friends who visit remember the house as being a lot bigger because at the time, in the 1980s, it was considered a massive house on a massive plot."

Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford
Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford

Alton House sits on a sloping three-quarter acre site in the centre of the town, and is set at the end of a drive, with wonderful views south over Tramore Bay, Brownstone Head, the Sand Hills and Back Strand - all names that will be familiar to surfers. Kieran has surfed since he was 15, and needs only to look out the front window to check the surf and tide conditions and whether the local big wave, 'The Incredible' was in evidence.

The house is two-storey to the front and one storey where the ground slopes to the rear and the entrance is up steps on either side of the house into a fine double height hallway.

The living rooms are to the front to take advantage of the light and views. "When we were growing up," Kieran recalls, "we spent all our time in the east-facing kitchen, living and dining room. It was dark from lunchtime onwards."

Back then, the second larger living room was rarely used, despite having windows facing east, south and west.

Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford
Alton House, Bracken Hill, Tramore, Co Waterford

The couple reconfigured the layout. "Being an engineer," says Kieran, " I drafted plans to swap the kitchen and living room. We stripped back the dark wooden ceilings and brightened the rooms with light finishes. We installed wood-burning stoves into large open fireplaces, replaced the windows and doors, and invested in lots of insulation and dry lining to improve efficiency."

Alton House now has a relatively snug BER of C3.

They brought in kitchen designer Garrett Dillon to help with plans for the bespoke kitchen with fitted units and island. Now the 49sqm open plan living space is sunlit and has views on three sides. The original kitchen has been turned into a second living space looking out to sea.

They kept to the original footprint of the house, and retained the angles that were characteristics of Fewer's design. The five bedrooms include the master with en suite and a walk-in wardrobe, there are three other doubles and one single. The accommodation and the family bathroom lie to the rear of the house.

The ground floor contains a garage that is roomy enough to take surfboards, bikes and skateboards, and a games room that, says Kieran, the boys love.

The large south-facing patio is a suntrap, while the large private rear garden is not overlooked and is protected from prevailing winds by rows of trees. There is plenty of space for swings, trampoline and football, says the vendor.

The couple have their eye on another renovation job in Tramore - Elaine has a passion for interior design - so they won't be moving too far from the surf.

Waterford city is 12km away, and many professionals working in the city choose to live in Tramore, says Michael Griffin.

For remote workers, Waterford city offers co-working spaces with high speed broadband connections at BoxWorks or there is the not-for-profit Fumbally Exchange (Fex) Waterford, a hub to creatives and entrepreneurs.

Waterford Regional Airport is 10km away, and Dublin is two-and-a-half hours' drive.

Era: 1985

Size: 232.3sqm

BER: C3

Agent: Griffin Auctioneers (051) 330569

Viewing: By appointment

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