Old and new in a coastal par­adise

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Words by Katy McGuin­ness

MWEELOON, MAREE, ORANMORE, CO GAL­WAY €1.25m Sherry FitzGer­ald: (01) 237 6308 / (091) 864309 View­ing: by ap­point­ment

AF­TER work­ing and liv­ing abroad for 20 years, our fam­ily of four was ready to come home to Ire­land,” say the own­ers of Mweeloon, lo­cated in Maree near Oranmore in Co Gal­way. it’s a lux­u­ri­ous wa­ter­side home with 325sqm of liv­ing space, de­signed and built in 2014 by Mul­caire Hef­fer­nan of Barna.

“Af­ter years spent mov­ing from one busy me­trop­o­lis to an­other, we were crav­ing some peace and soli­tude by the wa­ter and so were look­ing for a coastal lo­ca­tion within easy reach of Gal­way city, which is only 20 min­utes away.”

What they found was an orig­i­nal thatched cot­tage in need of to­tal re­fur­bish­ment, on enough land to al­low them to build a sep­a­rate large fam­ily house and still have al­most an acre of gar­den.

“We chose the lo­ca­tion be­cause of its nat­u­ral land­scape first,” say the own­ers. “It re­ally is a hid­den gem with ev­ery­thing one needs right on the doorstep. The life­style is sec­ond to none. It of­fers a safe and happy en­vi­ron­ment where chil­dren can ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture and lots of free­dom, a place where we live by the cur­rents, plan by the tides, and en­joy spec­tac­u­lar sun­rises and sun­sets. The brief was to cre­ate a bright and spa­cious house that em­braced the con­tours and folds of the el­e­vated site.”

The house was to be in­te­grated into the sur­round­ing land­scape and take ad­van­tage of the sea views over the horse­shoe-shaped Inish­corra Bay, home to nu­mer­ous species of wild­fowl and a seal colony. Each area of liv­ing space within the house has been po­si­tioned to max­imise the ori­en­ta­tion of the sun. The re­cep­tion hall is pan­elled in solid Ir­ish elm and, from here, dou­ble doors lead to the open-plan kitchen. An en suite guest bed­room is off the hall.

The kitchen is very much the heart of the home, with a lay­out suited to both en­ter­tain­ing and fam­ily life. The fam­ily area has slid­ing doors out to a west-fac­ing bal­cony and there is an ad­ja­cent tele­vi­sion room. The most im­pres­sive room is the lounge, which has a cut-stone fire­place, won­der­ful views and two ac­cess doors to the south-fac­ing bal­cony to the front of the house. On the ground floor there is also a large of­fice with ocean views, a util­ity room and a four-car garage. Up­stairs there are four dou­ble bed­rooms. The mas­ter has two dress­ing rooms, and three of the bed­rooms are en-suite. There is also a fam­ily bath­room.

Ly­ing next to the main res­i­dence is the orig­i­nal three-bed­roomed thatched cot­tage which has re­cently been ren­o­vated. This is ideal for guests or as a rental and has its own pa­tio and gar­den with sea views. There are also two out­build­ings, one with a large Belfast sink and shower fa­cil­i­ties that could be used as an artist’s stu­dio or games room. The other is large enough to store kayaks and other equip­ment.

“We love the coastal walks to­wards Tawin Is­land, fa­mous for its oys­ters, which end up in top seafood restau­rants like Mo­rans on the Weir down the road,” say the own­ers. “The fact that Shan­non and Knock air­ports are within an hour’s drive is a real plus, and the M6 makes Dublin eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

“Maree has a won­der­ful newly-built na­tional school which is a 15-minute bike ride from the house, and, at the heart of Maree vil­lage, just five min­utes away, sits Gre­aly’s gro­cery/deli store/ gar­den cen­tre/petrol sta­tion. Clar­in­bridge and Oranmore are about five kilo­me­tres away and both have ex­cel­lent pri­mary schools, Oranmore also has a great sec­ondary school. We are 20 min­utes from the city, and Oranmore has lots of ameni­ties in­clud­ing a weekly farm­ers’ mar­ket.”

The own­ers have made the most of the out­door life­style on their doorstep.

“Be­ing sur­rounded by wa­ter, we had no ex­cuse for not tak­ing up kayak­ing, pad­dle­board­ing and wind­surf­ing. The bay is shal­low, so is per­fect for be­gin­ners and small chil­dren who just want to go crab­bing and fish­ing. Rinville is a cen­tre from which to sail to other coastal re­sorts, and the Gal­way Bay Sail­ing Club and Rinville Park are great at­trac­tions, as is the Gal­way Bay Golf Re­sort. The lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­tre is equipped with bas­ket­ball courts, soc­cer pitches and ten­nis courts.

“We have en­joyed en­ter­tain­ing guests with bar­be­cue par­ties and sun­set cock­tails on the bal­conies,” say the own­ers. “We have re­ally loved our time in Gal­way, par­tic­u­larly the arts fes­ti­vals, and scenic day trips to the Bur­ren and Con­nemara that are within easy reach. We feel very lucky to have lived in such a par­adise close to a city with such friendly peo­ple as our neigh­bours.”

Now, though, the fam­ily’s cir­cum­stances have changed and they are re­lo­cat­ing, ready for a new chap­ter in their globe-trot­ting lives.

Mweeloon is per­fectly sited for coastal walks and wa­ter­sports in the shal­low bay

The kitchen is the heart of the mod­ern new home, built along­side the orig­i­nal thatched cot­tage, which has been ren­o­vated

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