If you love the look of a traditional cottage but not the work - or investment - involved in dragging it into the 21st Century, there is a solution. Buy one that has already been modernised.
The number of first-time buyers is falling year on year. Blame the Central Bank rules, blame lack of supply or high property prices or any one of the current market's idiosyncrasies. But as a result, those wanting to get a foot on the ladder are having to think outside the box.
One summer in the mid-1970s, there was a knock on the great oak front door of Knockdrin Castle in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. The current owner, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, then in his twenties and studying at Trinity, opened the door to find an American couple outside. They were castle buffs who had read about the neo-Gothic pile and decided to tip up on a whim.
There's a story told about Percy French, the songwriter whose work is celebrated every year at a Summer School in Castlecoote in Roscommon. Apparently, his song Are Ye Right There, Michael, was inspired by a train journey he took with the West Clare Railway network. He had set off from Sligo early in the morning to perform a recital in Dublin at 8 o'clock that evening but because of the snail pace of the train and the driver's decision to stop off randomly, by the time he finally arrived, his audience had left.
The property market may be in what one commentator calls 'a short-lived Ice Age', but there is widespread confidence that as the threat of Covid-19 recedes, construction will pick up, and prices will rally, and buying and selling will continue more or less where they left off.
When you buy a house in Coleville Road, Clonmel, you know you have arrived. At least as far as the merchants who built their elegant mansions there in the 18th and early 19th centuries were concerned. It was, and still is, locals say, the Clonmel equivalent of Shrewsbury Road.
The owner of Belmont House in Co Kildare, a fine four-bedroom property in the heart of equestrian country, was born and bred locally, and horses are in his blood. He has known the slice of land that Belmont sits on from the days when it was still part of the famous Whitechurch Stud.
I have two keep-cups on my desk at work. But when I nip around the corner to get a caffeine fix, they often stay on my desk. By all accounts, another 80pc of keep-cup users are just as forgetful as I am.
Last year, I stopped mowing the lawn - or, to be strictly accurate, the husband stopped. I had read that when a bumblebee queen emerges blinking in to the cold spring light, she needs to visit 6,000 flowers a day just to be able to feed her offspring. I knew that our bees were in trouble. And that butterflies, hoverflies, beetles and other insects were disappearing too.
Architect Lisa Carolan has a passion. She loves historic buildings, no matter how dilapidated. In fact, since returning home from Amsterdam four years ago, she has renovated two derelict properties and poured love - and money - into their restoration.
Buying a bar of chocolate, it turns out, is a gender issue. It's also a child labour issue. You could even say it's a modern slavery issue since the average cocoa farmer lives on a wage well below the UN's poverty line of $1.90 a day. And as deforestation and soil erosion are typical problems in cocoa-growing areas, chocolate is also an environmental issue.
It's not every day that musical royalty comes to tea. And it's an even rarer occurrence when they offer to buy your house over a cuppa and cakes. But that is exactly what happened when Dr Jan Mohamed, of Pouldrew House, opened the door to Priscilla Presley and her daughter Lisa Marie.
That smell you get in the dry cleaners? That, folks, is the sweet scent of solvents. More specifically of a chemical called Perchloroethylene, also known as Perc, or PCE or Tetrachloroethylene. Its job is to dissolve dirt from your clothes, and it does that extremely well.
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