Story of Home Es­cape to the coun­try

A coastal stone cot­tage, dat­ing from the 1890s, is the quirky new home of Grainne Walsh, who left her life in Dublin to set up Me­tal­man Brew­ing in Co Water­ford

The Irish Times Magazine - - COVER STORY -

Water­ford’s mighty Cop­per Coast can be seen in the dis­tance as you turn right into the nar­row, bumpy drive­way that leads to the home of Grainne Walsh and Tim Bar­ber, co- own­ers of Me­tal­man Brew­ery in Water­ford city.

The cou­ple set up the brew­ing com­pany in 2011, turn­ing a part- time hobby into a full- time busi­ness, af­ter both left busy but some­times un­ful­fill­ing ca­reers in IT. They say they’ve never looked back.

Un­til last Au­gust they were liv­ing in a three- bed semi- de­tached house in a new es­tate in Water­ford, when they made the con­scious de­ci­sion to move fur­ther away from their brew­ing busi­ness and closer to the sea.

Lots of tum­ble­down out­houses and over­grown fo­liage form part of the charm of this homestead, which dates back to the 1890’ s and the new stone cot­tage which the cou­ple now call home was de­signed and lived in by an ar­chi­tect in the 1990s. It was a stip­u­la­tion of plan­ning per­mis­sion that much of it be built with re­claimed ma­te­ri­als from the orig­i­nal farm­house, which adds to the dis­tinc­tive­ness of this prop­erty.

“We found the house by ac­ci­dent. We weren’t look­ing to move, but I al­ways had a han­ker­ing to live by the sea. We were in­stantly cap­ti­vated by this house. It has a lot of char­ac­ter and spoke to us as be­ing quirky and out­side the norm and that felt like our kind of place,” Walsh says. drive to and from work,” she says.

The prop­erty sits be­tween the vil­lage of Annestown and the beau­ti­ful beach at Kil­far­rasy, while the brew­ing busi­ness is lo­cated in Water­ford city.

Home and work are in­te­grated in many ways and it is Walsh’s love of “liv­ing out­side the norm” that led to both the home and busi­ness.

“When we saw this house, the fact that it wasn’t like any other was what ap­pealed to us. It’s so un­usual, and that matched our de­sire to move out of some­thing that was very nine- to- five, to take the plunge and set up a brew­ery, even with zero back­ground in the drinks in­dus- try. It was mak­ing a path and route for our­selves, and this home felt like that too. It ap­pealed to us more than build­ing our own house,” she says.

Both took what was most likely a very cal­cu­lated risk in set­ting up the busi­ness, as Walsh knew she was never go­ing to truly be pas­sion­ate about IT.

“I was work­ing in a com­pany that was a lot of fun, but I knew I’d never be truly en­gaged. I knew if I was do­ing some­thing re­lat­ing to one of my own hob­bies, I could find that en­ergy in my work. I loved brew­ing beer at home be­cause in 2007 it was quite hard to get a good craft beer in Ire­land. By 2010 I was ready to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.

“I re­searched the mar­ket and de­cided there was a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for a small brew­ery in this part of the world. I handed in my no­tice, left my hus­band in his ‘ real job’ in Dublin, and I came down here and set up the brew­ery.”

Now in its eighth year, Me­tal­man is a 24- hec­tolitre brew house, with Ire­land’s first can­ning line also at the mi­cro- brew­ery. Their beer cans carry a very dis­tinct logo, which was in­spired by Walsh’s love of Art Deco ar­chi­tec­ture.

That love of ar­chi­tec­ture led to this un­usual house, with its quirky cor­ners, dra­matic fire­place, and a se­cret stair­way lead­ing to an at­tic bed­room. A long glass walk­way faces out to the sea and was built more for func­tion­al­ity, to pro­tect against the brac­ing winds, and it cer­tainly had its met­tle tested against Storm Ophe­lia last year. Walsh says that ex­pe­ri­ence made her very aware of the power of na­ture.

Apart from a new colour pal­ette, the cou­ple has done lit­tle to change the aes­thetic of the house.

“It seemed to be per­fectly made for us and the house was in very good con­di­tion. Some of the colour schemes may not have been to our lik­ing, so we did some paint­ing. We also wanted to tame the out­door wilder­ness as the house was un­oc­cu­pied for a year be­fore we moved in. The house re­ally is its own thing and we are just mind­ing it for now,” she says.

Both Walsh and her hus­band travel ex­ten­sively for work and no mat­ter where she has been, or how much fun she has had, home is some­where she looks for­ward to re­turn­ing to.

“Home is some­where you feel com­pletely re­laxed and at ease in. Ev­ery­one’s idea of a com­fort­able home is dif­fer­ent, but for me it’s about space and ac­cess to out­side space. I like to be able to see the hori­zon and I like when it’s far away, which I have here. I think home is also about who you share it with,” she says.

A pleas­ant work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is also a top pri­or­ity, some­thing she feels she has achieved with the brew­ery.


I handed in my no­tice, left my hus­band in his ‘ real job’ in Dublin, and I came down here and set up the brew­ery

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