Conversion: 1780's stables house turned holiday home

Conversion: 1780's stables house turned holiday home

A collection of crumbling buildings near Dublin have been transformed into a spacious home with an ultra-modern glazed cube addition.

Eoin Foyle loves a good party. As the owner of a private members’ club and a live music venue in Dublin, it’s his job. So when he and his wife, Oda, spotted some derelict buildings in a forest, just over an hour from the city, they knew it was the perfect place for a knees up or three.

Stables Conversion New

‘There’s more space than we need,’ he says of the property, which they have converted and extended into a 510sqm holiday home. ‘But my wife and I come from large families, so there are plenty of relatives who visit.’Last Christmas there were 35 of them, and for summer solstice this year they had 200 people camping on the 10-acre site, which is just outside the town of Ballymahon, northwest of Dublin. Plus they have their own brood of four daughters.‘The kids love running wild in the field,’ says Eoin. ‘We have a big dorm room where they can have sleepovers.’

The family spends most weekends and school holidays at the house, which used to be a stables and coach house, and dates from 1750. It is arranged around a central courtyard – with the extension replacing an old stone wall that once would have separated the hounds from the horses. The striking addition houses the master bedroom, an open-plan kitchen-diner, and a terrace. The adjoining stables house another eight bedrooms.

The coach house has a cinema inside, and an eco-friendly wood pellet boiler – which costs around €600 (around £517) over nine months, providing all the heat and hot water – although the oil-powered boiler is required when all the bedrooms are in use.

Stables Conversion Kitchen New

Eoin and Oda found the house by chance after visiting Oda’s parents nearby. ‘We were driving back when we saw this sign that said “Stone buildings for sale”,’ says Eoin. ‘It is literally down a track in the forest in the middle of nowhere. ‘We had to walk as there was no access at the time. But we found it and just thought, “This is it”.’

They put in an offer, with the idea of adding a striking contemporary extension – ‘I’d been dying to build my own glass box, so this was the opportunity to do it,’ says Eoin. And as luck would have it, he had recently swapped offices with award-winning architects ODOS, so he asked them to work on the project.

‘Their portfolio’s very impressive,’ he says. ‘And when we sat down with them to describe what we wanted they were very keen – there were no flights of fancy or going off on tangents.’

Together they worked closely on the design – particularly for the steel-framed extension – which was finalised after three meetings. ‘We wanted something with a lot of space and light, a deck to sit outside, and an open fire,’ explains Eoin. ‘And I always wanted to have wood cladding outside with concrete.'

First there was the task of repairing the derelict stone buildings, which had been uninhabited and exposed to the elements. The walls were damp and the encroaching undergrowth so thick that the builders spent three weeks clearing the site. In addition, there were no services, so a trench for electricity had to be dug through the forest, which cost €6,500 (£5,599). Luckily, there was already a well on site for water – they just had to install a filtration system and sewerage.

Stables Conversion Dorm New

Next, the timber and slate roof had to be replaced – the timber was rotten, though most of the slate tiles were reused. Underfloor insulation and heating was added, and then the internal layout was re-built and the new extension added. ‘It was a complete rebuild, apart from the stone walls,’ says Eoin. ‘A newbuild is much easier, in a way. You can put your walls where you want.'

Amazingly, considering the stone building is listed, planning permission came without a hitch. ‘They were delighted to see a family development there, and to see something derelict being brought back to life,’ says Eoin.

The build took 11 months and was funded by the sale of two investment homes in Dublin and a €300,000 (£258,454) mortgage. The final cost was more than the original €550,000 (£473,815) budget, though a few compromises were made.

The biggest costs for the project were the roofing and gutters, window frames, plumbing, heating, and electrics. ‘The cantilevered plinth that the extension sits on was the one thing I was going to drop because it was around €30,000 (£25,845), but I’m glad I didn’t, because it works really well,’ says Eoin, who recommends setting aside a 10-20 per cent contingency budget.

He’s more than happy with the result. ‘It’s just nice being here. It’s quiet and peaceful,’ he says.

Words: Luke Tebbutt Images:Chris Tubbs

Useful contacts

    • Archtect:Odos Architects (+353 1 672 5300;
    • Contractor:Frank and McKiernan and Sons (+353 43 334 6132;
    • Structure, glazing and rooflights: Rich Glass & Glazing (+353 1 285 6123;
    • External cladding and decking: Iroko wood from a local supplier. Try Dovetailed Designs (020 8517 5171;
    • Fixtures & Fittings: Kitchen Ikea (020 3645 000;
    • Sanitaryware: Armitage Shanks (01543 413 204;
    • Lighting: Modular Lighting Instruments (+32 51 26 5656;
    • Biomass boiler: Sht (


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